Aristotle’s restraint and Proust’s liberty

by cheri sabraw

As we drove away from Santa Fe at high noon, I vowed never again to eat another cheesy enchilada laced with New Mexican chili pepper, bell peppers, and jalapeno peppers, another tortilla stuffed with hot saucy scrambled eggs and peppers, or to drink another pepper infused martini, garnished with a pepper.

IMG_3823And although I will miss the glorious cloud formations that gathered ceremoniously every afternoon to celebrate the coming of Thunder and Lightning, I will not miss the gastronomical temptations to which I succumbed all week and to which no digestive system should have to endure.

Prilosec, God of Neutralizing, and feared by every pepper on  every pepper vine south of Espanola and north of Gallup, came to my rescue, along with all the bread, muffins, bread sticks, and corn bread I used to soak up the combustible mixture, one threatening to take my mind off the deeply detailed and neurotic Marcel Proust, about whom I was studying.

The skies of New Mexico, like the chicken enchiladas covered with mole’ and the cilantro infused tortilla soup, linger.

IMG_3818The Judge, most of the time (with some  notable exceptions) the standard for moderation and consideration, avoided all spicy foods, and instead wisely ordered fish, salmon, fish, halibut, fish, and scallops–all of which behaved  like chicken broth and soda crackers–predictably, gently, regularly.

He was studying, after all, Aristotle’s Ethics and what is more moderate–the “mean” if you will–than fish, pilaf, and a salad with balsamic dressing?

Oh boy.



About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Aristotle’s restraint and Proust’s liberty

  1. says:


    Cindy Block Usedom Cindy and Partners

    Cell: 510-501-4140 Office: 925-426-3760

  2. dafna says:

    laugh out loud funny! santa fe at high noon. the battle between cheri’s stomach and the spicy chili peppers, hysterical. jacob is a chili pepper fan and i am often seen trying to ply him with substances to “soak up” the the stuff in his digestive system. in addition to being funny your post is an great advertisement for life-long learning.
    it has exposed some huge gaps in my formal education. proust took liberties? amoungst the books that people have claimed to have read yet have not, is proust’s “remembrances of lost time” due to it’s length and intensity. (the “Iliad” may be another) what little i have read of proust, i read in french, and certainly not in it’s entirety. however i always though of him more as having lived a short and unhappy life… not one feasting on challenging food stuff!
    and Aristotle… i am embarrassed to say there is a giant void where knowledge should reside. i only know of the thinkers he inspired and when his great thoughts have overlapped with math.
    by describing the judge’s eating habits as “mean” you did intend to imply central tendency and NOT “average” 😉
    because there is nothing wise about being average, it could not be the driving idea behind “Eudaimonia”. i will admit that avoiding a gaseous stomach could keep one in “good spirits”.
    i would also have to admit that my lack of knowledge of Aristotle is probably do to my aversion of the study of “philosophy” and philosophers in general. so my ignorance is self-inflicted.

    • Cheri says:

      I always enjoy your wide-ranging reactions, dafna.
      Life-long learning, albeit with slower intake and poorer retention than in my younger days, is very important for the mind, heart, and spirit. Although some say entertaining, “Dancing With the Stars” doesn’t keep neurological pathways fluid. (I’m sure an argument can be made against that statement…)

      I only read Volume 2 of “In Search of Lost Time”, the one called either “In a Budding Grove or In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower.” Although a crock of work, I enjoyed Proust’s elegant sentences, humor, and keen lens through which he dissects class, sexual, aesthetic, political and emotional differences we observe in our own lives.

  3. Rosemary says:

    I used to guzzle water after a spicey morsel threatened to burn my mouth off…but then someone told me to drink milk…
    I’m not so sure that that bit of wisdom is correct medical advice, but I’m not above just soaking my tongue in a precious glass of milk…slowing the tears pouring down my face…
    I definitely side with The Judge’s strategy!

    • Cheri says:

      He didn’t need Prilosec but reminded me after he read the blog that he also had those enchiladas with a mole’ sauce at a restaurant called Pasqual’s. I’ll try the milk next time.

  4. Christopher says:

    It was appropriate that, during your stay, you feasted on the tantalizing New Mexican cuisine, even if it was to excess. When in Rome one should do as the Romans do, should one not?

    However, I don’t think it appropriate that you read Proust during this holiday. Far better to have put Proust temporarily aside, and instead to have dipped into the likes of John Nichols’s “The Milagro Beanfield War, or Willa Cather’s “Death Comes to the Archbishop”.

    • Cheri says:


      I haven’t read the first but have read “Archbishop” three times. In Santa Fe, there is a place to stay called “The Bishop’s Lodge” where the Bishop to Santa Fe did, indeed, rest himself.

  5. W.k. kortas says:

    This wonderful tale of peppers infused with pepper and seasoned with more peppers puts me in mind of the old Sinatra song about coffee in Brazil, e.g., “They put java in the coffee in Brazil.”

  6. Richard says:

    The peppers, judge Aristotle, the hedonistic cloud formations and Marcel himself, all wrapped up in a wonderful capsule of your time in Santa Fe, which you clearly enjoyed very much.

    Someone told me the other day that chillies don’t actually burn you, they just stimulate the same nerves. So no damage was caused and all your memories can be happy ones.

  7. Cyberquill says:

    Congratulations on your vow to abstain from peppery dishes henceforth, but speaking of Proust, I believe it was he who said that “all our final decisions are made in a state of mind that is not going to last.”

  8. Reminds me of the time Sam went to Texas and ordered fish. They laughed him out of the restaurant and brought a huge steak and an admonition. “You never eat fish in cow country”! And of course you know my attachment to the food of New Mexico! Funny post.

    • Cheri says:

      The food in SF is, as you know, a combination of Mexican and Texican.
      I love that food but as I have aged, my stomach rebels. Boo hoo!!!

  9. bogard says:

    Very funny post. But see, if you’d just stuck with straight tequila, or classic margueritas, and the fish tacos, no problem, no prilosec.

    • Cheri says:

      I should have taken your advice and added the classic marguerita to my my studies of the classics. Instead, I washed it all down with Chardonnays…The Judge was so smart, having the vodka tonic with lime.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s